Monthly Archives: January 2014

What happens on riding test day (good to know for first timers …)

Reached the driving school at 6:50 am, and ate my breakfast before going up to Level 5 for the test admin (reporting time 7 am)… woah, so many people there already, all geared up with knee and elbow pads.

I submit my PDL and IC, check the number tag I am assigned (No. 5) and put on the “test bib 5” and the rest of the safety gear … “hmm, good, will be 5th one to be tested” (the order goes like foreigners go first, and then the rest are by IC order, so that the older ones will go first … seems like I was the oldest Singaporean to take the test today, haha). Those who are ready are asked to go down to the test area and warm up and by 7:15, we are all doing our practises (50 of us in all!!).

I managed to do everything properly (no immediate failure stuff, like striking kerb, footing due to loss of balance, … ) and got to practise every obstacle at least 4 times and got used to the bike. At 8:20, we are gathered into the briefing room, and told to have a break until 8:40 … OK, so far so good (had a coffee here).

Around 8:45, one instructor gives a pep talk and reminder of what to watch out for (like where the testers will be stationed (10 in total, for both circuit and road), and how to avoid deductions for not checking blind spot etc), and then brings the class out to the circuit for a demo by another instructor on the proper riding techniques (for starting, figure of 8, crank and Emergency brake) … then, we go back to the room and wait a while, before being called to go out again to the circuit area and line up according to our number tags.

In ten rows of 5, our PDL and IC are returned (must go to tester and say aloud your name and NRIC for him to check), and then, TIME FOR ACTION! The first 10 or so of us put on our helmets and gloves and position our bikes to start the test … (about 9:30 now).

First rider is given the signal and proceeds …  tester 1 observes him until the figure of 8 course before signalling the second person to start … (unfortunately, first chap is too slow going out of the course, and puts his foot down for balance, … IMMEDIATE FAILURE casualty number 1!) ..

Very soon, my turn comes … I am ok (I think) all the way until the plank; then DISASTER!!!!!!!! Just went onto the plank and then I find my front tyre is off it (GONE CASE!!!) … I just carry on, but SUPER XIAN3 already lor … (as you can imagine).. do the slalom, and went out onto the road … (Immediate failure casualty number 2).

Did ok for the rest of the course outside the driving school (EXCEPT in my own view, the coming back into the driving school upslope, where I went wide, and footed to regain balance, but seems no penalty there by  tester No. 5  (there are 4 testers for the circuit, you see, and the 5th one is positioned to look at people coming out and in, of the driving school, rest of 6 to 10 at various road junctions) as nothing is recorded about this …

And the test is soon over for me (actually, earlier already over!)… returned the gear and retrieved my stuff in the locker, talked to the others about how they did in Level 5, and canteen, and at 11 am, back at the room, we “nervously” (excitedly?) wait for results (but of course for me, I know it is already gone case, sigh ……..).

The testers who returned our PDL and NRIC comes to the room and those whose numbers are called, … FAIL!!! (i.e. so, pray hard they don’t call out your number). Soon, my tester (No. 1, who assess the starting, slope, figure of 8) comes in, and called out, “1 and 5” … yup, no surprises here and so, good for 2, 3, 4 who passed today, and everyone else ..(congrats!!).

An instructor gave me some sympathy (16 points pass!! never mind, try again); the first guy, well he would have failed anyway (got 20 points) … went to book for the next test date (4 April) + Road Revision (they won’t allow you to book test date, unless you also book this first), claimed back my “assessment checklist” to keep as a “souvenir” …

Oh, btw, if you pass, they will ask you to go for the expressway familiarisation riding on the same day (in the afternoon, like 1 to 3; if not, got to book another slot by yourself, then can go and get your license) … seems also have to watch some safety video, and some briefing, before being released for the day (around ??? time, I don’t know, because I am home already typing this, hahaha).

If there is any plus point to not clearing the test today, it is that I can still go back to SSDC to practise as and when I like until 4 April… (had not intended to get a bike anyway for now; but still think it is a useful license to have!!). Must console yourself, right?


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IMMEDIATE FAILURE!! Traffic Police Test today … sob

Plank ... OFF!!

Plank … OFF!!

What a disappointment! got 16 demerit points, which is a PASS, but the plank got me today!! bleah …

16 points, but 1 Immediate Failure = FAILED

16 points, but 1 Immediate Failure = FAILED

Next test date: 4 April 2014  (10 weeks later) …. xian3 man!!

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Luggage repair turns to “relaxing day at the beach”

Have been wanting to repair the wheels on our Delsey luggage since Taiwan trip last year and got to know of this place in Siglap Drive that does so (apparently very big time, doing it for several airlines and service centre for Delsey). They quoted $20 for a replacement wheel last week and I thought better get this “home-work” done today (20 Jan 2014); was going to be busier with “paid-work” in upcoming days!

So off I went after checking that they were open today from 9 to 6, and around 11 am, handed the bag over (need some navigation work to reach there as must go in via Siglap Road and not Frankel Ave; Siglap Drive is mostly a one-way street which does not show in Googlemap until it is very zoomed in!). The boss collected the bag, said that only 2 wheels needed replacement (Good! $40 instead of $80 for repairing it), and told me to collect it from 2 pm.

OK, so I have 3 hours to hang around (not worth to drive back home, takes almost 30 min one way) and E. Coast Park being just nearby and with FREE parking, I headed there with my plan to read “War and Peace”, have lunch at McDonald’s near the seafood centre, laze around, then go back to the shop to collect the bag. And then, when I was ready for lunch, … (surprise to learn No. 1 McDonalds closure at seafood centre!)

Closed from 29 Dec 2013, nearest Mac at Siglap Centre (where I just came from, darn)

Closed from 29 Dec 2013, nearest Mac at Siglap Centre (where I just came from, darn)

What duh …! Change of plan needed … drove to another free carpark along E. Coast Park to cross the ECP using the overhead bridge (“overlooking” VJC) as I knew from last time that there was a hawker centre amongst the HDB flats. Took my lunch (kuay chap) and went back to E. Coast park to have a little siesta under the shade of pine trees by the “river” (actually a big “longkang”; really shiok as it was nice and windy today!).

Woke up refreshed and salty (this will happen when one is near the beach), and it was time to collect my luggage. On the way, passed by the Laguna Food Centre (hmm, looked like it had already re-opened; was closed last year for renovations, soon after some stalls caught fire),  detoured into the carpark … what! it was open (Surprising Learning No. 2), and I did not have to do my complicated moves to have lunch near VJ!!

Learning Point No. 3: don’t trust someone doing repair job on your luggage about the time it will be done; CALL BEFORE GOING! … at 2:30 pm, the luggage was NOT done,  the boss had disappeared and had not left instructions to do the needed repairs (the boss certainly did not subscribe to “under promise and over deliver!” in my case).

One of the workers explained that the wheels will not be original ones, and that as no phone number was left behind, they could not call to double check if I still wanted to get it done (this is clearly the boss’ fault). Anyway, he assured me it would be ready by 4 pm, and that they will call me if it is done before that …

So what to do?! besides registering my displeasure (not much point to direct too much of such stuff to the workers!) at having to hang around for another hour or so, I went back to E. Coast Park.

And ran … (although it was suppose to be rest day after yesterday’s run). At the furtherest point 5 km (3o min into run, or at NSRCC) from where I had parked my car  (the extreme skateboarding park) at 3:30, the shop called to say “Your bag is ready for collection, Sir”

Oh well, I will just make my way back there at my own leisure now, ..

A good way to end my day at the beach!

A good way to end my day at the beach!

and turn it into a relaxing day at the beach instead (with a side excursion to the luggage repair shop!) and learning a few things!

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Memories in a bag …

Something I wanted to do last July when I left MOE but never got to do (rather, procrastinated, haha) until this week … pack our balcony “storeroom”.

You will need access to a good shredder ...

You will need access to a good shredder …

PJC Workplan 2002

PJC Workplan 2002

Math tutorial, lecture, revision, tests, exam materials

Math tutorial, lecture, revision, tests, exam materials

Assorted stuff ... cards, stationery, souvenirs, ...

Assorted stuff … cards, stationery, souvenirs, …

New skill - tying paper tightly using little wastage of raffia, like garang gunk man!

New skill – tying paper tightly using little wastage of raffia, like garang gunk man!

A classic ... The Art of War, but not by Sun Tzu! But a (now Dr) Dennis Yeo ...

A classic … The Art of War, but not by Sun Tzu! But a (now Dr) Dennis Yeo …

Miscellaneous stuff ... includes preserved butterflies in fragile glass casing (x2), mugs, ...

Miscellaneous stuff … includes preserved butterflies in fragile glass casing (x2), mugs, …

The Memories Bag (free gift from STU put to good use!)

The Memories Bag (free gift from STU put to good use!)

Took me 2 half days (Monday 13 Jan, and Wed 15 Jan) to do it … keep/discard stuff that goes all the way back  to my student days (1982 even!), and re-organise the things to keep.

So, what’s left behind? Well, in the Memory Bag (PJC-VJC-Outram-NYJC, above) are  one or two yearbooks from each school, CDs, photos, … , but must say the most precious are the cards from students and colleagues! Other gems include Dennis Yeo’s “Art of War” (a modern “classic”, think I still have the PPT slides in some CD, haha! the hardcopy handout I just had to keep instead of sending it to the shredder), some super old FM TYS  (1972 – 1980), my FM mechanics assignments (yep, decided it was worth keeping two of them), and an article “IMPURE MATHEMATICS” (i.e. adult humour that only people with Math background can appreciate, lol!).

What got thrown away or shredded? Well, the confidential stuff (e.g. staff reports from PJC, “sensitive” training materials, PW exam stuff) were shredded (very hard work: had access to heavy duty shredder only on Monday; rest were by hand and scissors – minor miracle I did not get any paper cut, yay!), and all kinds of other stuff (yearbooks – yah, too much to fit into one Memory Bag if I kept every year’s yearbook from PJ and NY; paper based stuff like training materials, etc etc etc, files and more files, 1990 Guinness Book of Records and other not “important” books, … ).

And here’s a tip for teachers: For Teacher’s Day, try to get your students to give you cards or something edible only if they want to give you something at all. No “souvenir” stuff,   especially if not personalised; they will simply accumulate and be thrown one fine day unless you live in a super big place that can keep adding stuff; at least cards are easy to keep and contain the student’s thoughts/feelings – infinitely more meaningful, one of a kind, and precious, if you ask me!!

Must say it felt good to clear away some of the stuff that had accumulated over all this time (1998 CPDD – 2013 NYJC); a bit like catharsis, I guess! Next up, to repeat this to  more stuff from RJC days and from our first home which is now enbloc-ed and torn down (lots from there still in boxes, not sure if eaten by something already … ).


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Prosperity for the New Year …

For our first session of the new instalment of Chinese Ink Painting lessons, …

Prosperity! .. this piece is one of my larger works :)

Prosperity! .. this piece is one of my larger works 🙂

The one in front is the usual size of what we do in class ..

The one in front is the usual size of what we do in class ..


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Lo and behold …

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov

“Lo and behold” will take different meaning after this “masterpiece – one of the great works of art of our age” (Independent) …

(was really looking for Haruki Murakami on the shelves; Nabokov was on adjacent shelf … and Lolita just “jumped” out at me, really!!)


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On Idleness …

Two views concerning idleness, from Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Bertrand Russell’s “In Praise of Idleness” …

“The Bible legend tells us that the absence of labor – idleness – was a condition of the first man’s blessedness before the Fall. Fallen man has retained a love of idleness, but the curse weighs on the race not only because we have to seek our bread in the sweat of our brows, but because our moral nature is such that we cannot be both idle and at ease. An inner voice tells us we are in the wrong if we are idle. If man could find a state in which he felt that though idle, he was fulfilling his duty, he would have found one of the conditions of man’s primitive blessedness.”  War and Peace , Book 7 Chapter 1.

(btw, goes on to “suan” military service by saying “the chief attraction of military service has consisted and will consist in this compulsory and irreproachable idleness”, haha), and on the other hand, …

“I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. … and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work.

If the ordinary wage-earner worked four hours a day, there would be enough for everybody and no unemployment — assuming a certain very moderate amount of sensible organization. This idea shocks the well-to-do, because they are convinced that the poor would not know how to use so much leisure. …

When I suggest that working hours should be reduced to four, I am not meaning to imply that all the remaining time should necessarily be spent in pure frivolity. … I mean that four hours’ work a day should entitle a man to the necessities and elementary comforts of life, and that the rest of his time should be his to use as he might see fit.”  In Praise of Idleness (1932)

Are you working too little, or working too much?

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